What is a Dais?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A dais is a raised platform that can be designed into a new home or building. It can also be added later as either a permanent fixture, or as a mobile, temporary one. This stage-like structure can serve many purposes, from a performance area to an elegant, elevated seating location. In any case, it's main function, is to draw attention to whatever is placed upon it. It is normally much lower than a full-scale stage, usually just one or two steps higher than the surrounding floor.

Lecture halls will generally have a dais to elevate the professor for the students in the back rows to see.
Lecture halls will generally have a dais to elevate the professor for the students in the back rows to see.

The typical material used for dais design is wood. The wood normally matches the rest of the room, unless a more eye-catching selection is used to highlight the structure itself. Any strong material, however, could be used, from metal, to fiberglass, or a series of sturdy crates. An impromptu design could even be made with scrap material or boxes for children who wish to put on a backyard play.

Dais design and size can vary depending upon the venue and use of the structure. Lecture halls may feature a large, stage-like structure for professors to speak from, or a smaller structure for smaller classes. Staged readings and other college performances often call for a small to medium-sized dais. A small, single-sized version may be used in art studios for models to pose upon.

When used in home interior design, a dais is typically designed around its purpose as well, such as being big enough to hold a seating area or table that a homeowner plans to place upon it. Home performances sometimes take place on these raised platforms. People who entertain frequently may utilize the space with a piano, for example. Children may also give recitals or perform dance numbers on the raised floors in some homes.

Some schools, senior centers, and other buildings without the room for a permanent structure may use a portable dais. These raised floors may be on wheels that lock, once put in place. A portable dais design may also feature separate parts that may be assembled on location, which can make the structure more portable and easy to store.

Depending up on the company being used, purchasing a raised platform may not be necessary. Many DJs, and other hired performers, own and assemble their own platforms prior to performances. A set-up fee may be included in the overall cost of the performance. For frequent in-house performances, however, such as a school concert or play, owning a dais may optimal.

This platform was originally used in medieval halls. Kings, lords, and other high-ranking officials typically utilized the space to eat apart from lower-ranking people. It was also sometimes used for the placement of a thrown. Designed to stand a full step higher than the rest of the room, the structure was usually at the end of the hall.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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